First breakdown of errors in IVF clinics discloses 1 adverse incident for every 100 cycles of fertility treatment
A couple who wished to have a child from their own genes were given the wrong sperm, in one of hundreds of blunders made by IVF clinics, an official report warns.
The report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) provides the first breakdown of the type of adverse incidents in UK fertility clinics, with one for every 100 cycles of treatment.
The authority, which licenses fertility clinics and centres carrying out IVF, says that over three years, there were three of the most serious adverse events, known as grade A mistakes, along with 714 grade B incidents and 815 grade C errors.
One of the most serious mistakes reported was a family receiving the wrong sperm.
The couple were supposed to be given donor sperm from a brother - so the child would have the same genes.
Instead, they were given the sperm of a different donor, resulting in a child with a different genetic father to their sibling.
Another incident involved dishes with the embryos of 11 patients becoming contaminated with "cellular debris that may have contained sperm," the report states.
The final grade A error occurred when a member of staff removed frozen sperm from storage prematurely.
HFEA said that the most serious incidents occur "infrequently", but the number of grade C mistakes - such as breaches of confidentiality or one of many eggs being rendered unusable during the processing of treatment - remains "too high".
The report describes 1,679 adverse incidents in UK fertility clinics in the three years ending 2012, and says on average, there are around 600 mistakes for every 60,000 cycles of fertility treatment.
"We are committed to ensuring that clinics provide the safest and highest quality service to their patients," said HFEA chairwoman Sally Cheshire.
"These results show that, in the main, clinics are doing a good job of minimising the number of serious errors, and this should be welcomed.
"While we do what we can to ensure IVF is error free, mistakes do sometimes happen, as they do in any area of medicine. What's most important is learning the lessons from errors made to minimise the chance of their happening again - this is not about naming and shaming.